Joshua 3:9-14 (NIV) 9 Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD–the Lord of all the earth–set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” 14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.
On verses 9-14: The priests carrying the ark of the covenant go ahead of the people to lead the way through the Jordan River. What can we learn from this? A good leader will not tell his or her people to do what he himself is unwilling to do. The best leaders lead not just with their words but also with their example.
Joshua 3:15-17 (NIV) 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
On verses 15-17: To show that God was truly with the Israelites, God causes the downstream flow of the Jordan River to stop and pile up a distance away, so that the people could cross the Jordan River on dry ground. This recalls an earlier event when God parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites while they were escaping Egypt (Exodus 14:21-31) and was God’s way of showing that God was with Joshua just as He was with Moses.
What can we learn from this?
1. Notice that the water did not stop flowing until the priests’ feet actually touched the water. God allowed the priests’ feet to feel the water before God allowed their feet to feel the dry ground. That’s the walk of faith. Sometimes as you’re walking in faith you will feel like you’re headed to your doom, but in the nick of time, God shows up and does something far beyond all we could ask for or imagine. May we have enough courage and patience to walk forward in faith, trusting that God will make a way in His time.
2. Notice that the priests were the first in the water and the last out of the water. As servants of the Lord, there will be times when we will be the first to wake up and show up, and the last to leave and close up. But that’s what true Christ-like leadership is all about: humble, sacrificial service.
Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us what humble, sacrifice leadership looks like. Please give me the courage to walk forward in faith in obedience to Your Word, trusting that in Your way and in Your time You will make a way far greater than anything I could do on my own. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!